In ancient times, when the night sky was not obscured by artificial lights and smog, cultures in different parts of the world discovered images in the sky by connecting the dots of stars through constellations. They saw bears, (Ursa Major and Ursa Minor), twins, (Gemini), a bull, (Taurus), and others, including dogs, (Canis Major and Canis Minor). The brightest of the stars in Canis Major (the big dog) is Sirius, which is also the brightest star in the night sky.
In the summer, Sirius, the “dog star,” rises and sets in conjunction with the sun. The ancients believed that its heat added to the heat of the sun, creating a stretch of hot and sultry weather. They named this period of time, from 20 days before the conjunction to 20 days after, “dog days.” While this varies somewhat with latitude, today, the dog days occur during the period between mid-July and the end of August.
A different sort of dog days is happening in the workplace. Almost 20% of companies in the United States allow their employees to bring their dogs to work. Many of these are small start-up companies who recognize the need for a flexible work environment or tech firms that seek to capture the interest of prospective employees or to better retain current employees. Some of the benefits they cite for allowing pets in the office are increased staff morale and worker productivity, decreased absenteeism and levels of stress, and greater camaraderie among employees.
Personally, I am all for dogs at work, though I realize it is not for everyone, nor appropriate for every type of business. If you are seriously considering it, be sure to develop and communicate throughout your entire organization a clear policy with guidelines and expectations. Most of the rules will be common sense, but more importantly they will ensure everyone’s comfort and safety.